Skedee, OK

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City/Town: Skedee
Location Class: Disappearing Town
Year Built: N/A
Year Abandoned: N/A
Status: National Register of Historic Places Disappearing Town
Photojournalist: Cody CooperJustin Tyler MooreBilly DixonDavid LindeJohnny Fletcher

Located in north-central Pawnee County, Skedee is situated slightly east of the junction of County Roads E0440/N3530. Established six miles northeast of the county seat of Pawnee, Skedee was originally known as Lemert for the Lemert family, who sold land for a townsite to the railroad company. The Eastern Oklahoma Townsite Company sold town lots at auction on January 17 and 18, 1902. Subsequently, a post office was designated on February k10, 1902. However, the name Lemert was too similar to another Oklahoma town, and the postal department requested that the post office name be changed. Consequently, Lemert became Skedee, a reference to the Skidi band of the Pawnee. Between 1900 and 1904 the Eastern Oklahoma Railway (later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) built a line from Newkirk to Pauls Valley that passed through Skedee. The nearby Crystal Creek provided water for the trains’ steam engines. When the railroad bypassed Osage City (located five miles northeast of Skedee), buildings and several homes were moved to Skedee.

Agricultural pursuits have been the mainstay of Skedee’s economy. Local farmers raised livestock, and cotton was their principal money crop. By 1909 settlers had established four churches, a public school, and a bank. A feed mill, a grain elevator, and a cotton gin supported the rural community. In the 1940s and 1950s a gasoline station, a cotton, grain, and produce company, and flour and feed company served residents.

Like most all abandoned buildings it is weird to see the items and keepsakes left behind. The school still housed many school books, desks, maps, globes and more. There were no school cleaning services at the end of the school’s functioning time. Right along with the other buildings in the area many things inside them stayed as is. A place that is the bones of a time and community that once was, but no longer is.

At 1907 statehood Skedee had 277 residents. During the next three decades the population remained fairly steady with 289, 268, and 272 reported for 1910, 1920, and 1930, respectively. In 1940 the population declined to 235. Since 1940 the numbers have decreased from 170 in 1950 to a low of 96 in 1990. As a result of dwindling population, the school was consolidated in the 1950s, and the post office closed on August 2, 1963. At the turn of the twenty-first century Skedee had 102 inhabitants. Employed citizens commuted to jobs in Pawnee and Stillwater. A statue of Osage Chief Bacon Rind and famed oil lease auctioneer Colonel (his first name) E. Walters, located in the town square, is a local point of interest. Walters commissioned Margaret (or Emaline; sources vary) Baker of Wichita, Kansas, to sculpt the Bond of Friendship, which was dedicated on April 22, 1926.

For much more great OK history, visit:
https://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/S/SK001.html

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Bob Hoobler
Bob Hoobler
8 years ago

Bob Hoobler I moved to Skedee in 1929 and moved to Pawnee in 1941. I still have fond memories of living there. During my time there (30's) it was a thriving community. We had the RR which kept the community going. Of particular interest was the famous coal shute that was erected in 1917 and is no longer there. Although dangerous we boys thought it was a great place crawl inside looking for birds nests, etc. It wa 120 feet tall. Along the railroad was a cotton Gin and a grain elevator. Just below the depot was a hotel. The… Read more »

ruth (horton)easton
ruth (horton)easton
Reply to  Bob Hoobler
8 years ago

I also lived there as a child. both my grandparents. Mary young and Billyjack her grandson and Elbert(Ebb) horton and wife Mary. Mary Horton passed 1943. Ebb in the 50's. I used to climb up and slide down the posts on the backside of Cameron's store. I went to church when I visited at the church on ne side of squire. My grandparents lived 1 block south of the square. youngs on the se corner and horton on westside of the church that sat on the sw of the same corner. My dad and I went fishing down by the… Read more »

Maria
Maria
Reply to  Bob Hoobler
7 years ago

I would be interested to know if you know of or remember a Pawnee Native American man who lived in Skedee by the name of "Dog Chief" Simond Adams who resided there from 1890 until his death in 1939.

Mike Tanner
Mike Tanner
8 years ago

do you remember any Tanners? Fred Tanner was the blacksmith in Skedee. He eventually moved his business to Ralston, and the Tanner name is still there. Fred donated the land to the Methodist church in town, which used to be the location of his shop. He moved his blacksmith shop across the street. The current resident (well, 20 yrs ago) told me she was always digging up pieces of iron in her garden. Orville was my grandfather, and he just loved Skedee. I have cassette tapes of Orville and his brothers swapping stories. I last visited about three years ago… Read more »

G. Cunningham
G. Cunningham
8 years ago

My great grandparents walked from Kansas to homestead in Skedee and Pawnee in the 1800´s. Their family names were Lewark and Carmean. I have old pictures of the stone schoolhouse where my grandmother was teaching in the late 1800´s. I still remember many many stories from my great grandmother Carmean and my grandfather Lyman Lewark about their life there. I have dozens of letters they wrote about their life in the area. Thank you for this site.

Leslie
Leslie
Reply to  G. Cunningham
6 years ago

Wow this is wonderful. You know about the Lewark family there. Are you related to with Frank Madison Lewark , What about Larry Lewark? do you know his fathers name? We may be related, might we chat sometime?

Eric
Eric
8 years ago

I've been to Skedee, many times in the past. Col Walters was married to a great Aunt of mine, but I never knew them. I have some photos and advertising cards the Col used to give out and I also have a program for the dedication of the statue of the Col and Bacon Rind that is in the middle of the main intersection of the town. If not mistaken, there are still relatives who live in the home the Col built and lived in for many years. I also have an old photograph of the town that was taken… Read more »

Erin Bailey
Erin Bailey
Reply to  Eric
7 years ago

Hi Eric! Colonel Walters is my great great great grandfather. The home is/was a beautiful bungalow on a couple of acres of pecan trees with Tiffany glass light fixtures, beveled glass windows and mirrors, and a huge octagonal dining table that was built inside the house. I lived there as a child. Many many loving memories of my grandmother and stepmother and my childhood there. Unfortunately my father had to sell our family home the 90's after losing his wife. I have many fond memories of playing in the creek, and by the railroad where the coal tower used to… Read more »

Chad
Chad
8 years ago

My dad and I used to come to Skedee in the late 80s to buy used motorcycle parts from a motorcycle salvage dealer there in Skedee. I loved roaming around that old man's property looking at all his motorcycles in various states of repair/ruin. That place had bike as far as the eye could see from a 11-12yo perspective.

Luci
Luci
9 years ago

What pictures of homes and cars? I only saw one house, a trailer house…?

Annie
Annie
Reply to  Luci
7 years ago

There are more houses the angle of the pictures only show a house or two but there are plenty more. Trust me. Go visit it sometime you will see yourself.

Luci
Luci
9 years ago

I think it's nice someone has documented this place I've lived in Oklahoma my whole life and would have never heard of this town if it weren't for this site. Atleast somone cares about local history! It's not like this site promotes vandalism or such things. Thanks and keep up the good work!

Becky McCray Brown
Becky McCray Brown
9 years ago

Took kids out to take a look at town. Family farm is nearby and I remember as a little girl going to school reunions with my great grandma and great aunt. It has changed and it is upsetting to see that someone or some people have vandalized the school. I have found memories of this area and greatful for it!!!!!!!

Curtis
Curtis
Reply to  Becky McCray Brown
7 years ago

You related to Alvie (sp?) McCray?

Chuck Hunts
Chuck Hunts
9 years ago

My father graduated from Skedee High School in 1938 and I have photo of all the students at the High School taken in 1937, I also have my father's senior class picture from 1938.
It is sad to see that build closed.

skedee proud
skedee proud
9 years ago

I think that it is a ittle ensensitive to the ppl that do live there to take these pictures. These pitures make it look as if skedee is a bunch of hillbillies that dont take care of thier town and we are not. I have live in Skedee for the past 22 years i can i cant imagine living anywhere else the ppl are as nice as they come and would give you the shirt off thier back and not have a second thought about it. yes we might not have even so much as a gas station, but we… Read more »

meme
meme
Reply to  skedee proud
9 years ago

Just want to say, I've been to Skedee twice now and the last thing I think is that you are hillbillies that don't care about your town! It is obvious that you guys are doing what you can to keep it as best you can. I love your little town and consider it a treasure.

Suzie
Suzie
9 years ago

My granddad grew up here in the early 1900's, and his mother, Nicolena Jensen Smith, is supposed to have run a boarding house next to the railroad. She is buried in the Skedee cemetery. Is the church still in existence?

Annie
Annie
Reply to  Suzie
8 years ago

yes it is my grandmother Beulah Layton went to it every Sunday until her death in 2010. She lived in Skedee Valley all her life and when she got married; her and her husband Wayne Layton lived on the other side of hwy 18 from the old Hill House and owned 4 acres. My aunt and uncle live there now and another aunt and uncle lived on the old Hill House land. I have great memories of both places and of the entire Skedee Valley and find myself missing it.

Jo Ann Harshbarger
Jo Ann Harshbarger
9 years ago

Yes, it may be listed as a ghost town but it is home to around 100 people, give or take a few. I was born, raised and still live in the area along with a lot of my family and friends. I don't remember giving anyone permission or even being ask if you could go inside the old store bldg and take these pictures. Taking pictures outside is one thing but entering private property without permission is something else.
The town was orginally named Lemert but changed to Skedee after the Skidi band.

Luci
Luci
Reply to  Jo Ann Harshbarger
9 years ago

That was noted above, in the story.

Annie
Annie
Reply to  Jo Ann Harshbarger
8 years ago

Awesome, I know some of the Harshbargers and my mother went to school with one or two.

Annie
Annie
Reply to  Jo Ann Harshbarger
7 years ago

Hi Jo Ann it is Anna Beulah Layton's granddaughter. Glad to know some from home are on these type of sites and posting. I agree one should get permission before going in one of the buildings. I am in the process of trying to get ahold of the chamber of commerce to hold an official investigation at the buildings there. Hopefully I get the permission I am seeking, if not then it is for the best I am sure.

Sverige
Sverige
9 years ago

Here's a (slightly foggy) memory: In the early and mid 70's I would, whenever possible, join my Uncle Ernest when he hunted quail. He had some great bird dogs and through his restaurant he knew alot of people and had cultivated permission to hunt several places in Osage and Pawnee Counties. On one of these hunts we followed the dogs into what appeared to me to be a ghost town. It felt strange when we stopped at next substantial statue in the center of a crossroad, shotguns ready while the dogs hunted the brush nearby. After a bit, we continued… Read more »

bert huddleston
bert huddleston
10 years ago

it not a ghost town. good folks still live there. it was home for me from 1942-1960.

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Reply to  bert huddleston
4 years ago

No they don't

Catherine Carter
Catherine Carter
Reply to  bert huddleston
2 years ago

The term "ghost town" can apply to towns that have lost the economic centers they were built upon. it doesn't have to be totally deserted. there are only about 50 residents there today and the only public establishment is the single church there. It's pretty much a ghost town.

Hal Cantwell
Hal Cantwell
10 years ago

the name translates to "wolf" from the Pawnee language

Doug Loudenback
10 years ago

While a senior at OSU in 1964-65, I was a student minister at the Methodist Church in Skedee … very interesting little town not on any state or federal highway but only a farm to market road, as I recall. In its better years, I'm pretty sure that a railroad passed through this little town in Pawnee County but I don't recall which one.

Annie
Annie
Reply to  Doug Loudenback
8 years ago

It did and still does. every now and then.

trsoonerstrongbad
trsoonerstrongbad
10 years ago

Cool Pics. I think the guy who opened Cains Ballroom lived here at one time.

Nik
Nik
10 years ago

pretty eerie pictures.. love it.

KrK
KrK
10 years ago

Some neat old buildings— but the town seems to still be there, judging by the homes and vehicles nearby….

bert huddleston
bert huddleston
Reply to  KrK
10 years ago

your right about 100 people call it home.

Annie
Annie
Reply to  KrK
8 years ago

There are many people still living there and its wonderful.

Fiend
Fiend
10 years ago

Awesome. Some neat buildings.

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